Jul 1, 2013, 11:49 AM EST
If Greg Bryant is the leading man of this offensive recruiting class, then Tarean Folston is the brooding character actor in the corner with breakout potential. There’s little doubt that most expect one of the freshman running backs now in summer school to compete for early playing time. But don’t be surprised if it’s the guy that wasn’t the five-star recruit.
Folston was an early target of the Irish and made the coaching staff sweat his commitment when his faxed letter-of-intent arrived a few hours later than expected. But now that he’s on campus, Folston is expected to be one of the home run hitters of this recruiting class, a powerful runner from the deep I formation that also has breakaway speed.
A jack-of-all-trades for his high school team, Folston has the ability to compete on special teams immediately as well.
Folston had more than his share of elite offers, with Florida and Florida State both chasing him from in-state schools and an official visit t0 Oregon all but validating his speed and elusiveness.
Looking for another data-point that vouches for Folston’s athleticism and versatility? At the Under Armor All-American Bowl, Folston was asked to play in the secondary because a team was thin. Playing cornerback for the first time that season, he had an interception.
A consensus Top 150 player, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made a late run at Folston, but in the end the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder stayed strong with his early January commitment to the Irish.
EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES
Just as we wrote in Bryant’s profile, there are carries to win in the backfield. And while Bryant looks the part already physically, Folston has the type of home-run hitting ability that’ll work in his favor to get the carries.
As we’ve seen the past few seasons, Brian Kelly seems to enjoy platooning his backs and utilizing their skills almost a la carte. While Folston did most of his damage out of the I formation, he’s got solid hands and works well in open space. With the Z receiver position still up in the air, finding a way onto the field could consist of shifting inside and outside.
Add in the renewed commitment to getting something out of the return game, and there are a variety of ways Folston could earn his way onto the field.
PROJECTING THE FUTURE
There’s a reason why many said that Folston was the Irish’s top back on their recruiting board for much of the last cycle. He’s a guy that this staff believes can be a difference maker at this level, as both a runner, receiver and returner.
That said, Folston might end up playing a specialty role depending on his ability to handle the wear and tear of 20-carries a game. Looking back at the last three seasons, Kelly hasn’t had any of his backs carry that type of load, so there’s every reason to believe that Folston will find his niche in this offense sooner than later.
Looking for a dream scenario for the Irish backfield? Check out the dynamic duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at Georgia. Both backs made a huge impact for Mark Richt’s squad, each averaging over six-plus yards a carry. That would make Irish fans — and Folston and Bryant — mighty happy.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:24 PM EST
Gone are Cody Riggs and Austin Collinsworth. Returning is a safety position that’s struggled, another transfer, a young cornerback on the rise, and (hopefully) an exiled potential star.
Welcome to the Notre Dame secondary. New coaching, same scheme, different players, and one of 2015’s great unknowns.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:34 PM EST
As we get a few extra weeks to prep for spring practice, let’s open the mailbag.
Feb 24, 2015, 6:56 PM EST
A position that looked like a huge question mark entering the 2014 season ended the year with an embarrassment of riches. After watching Will Fuller emerge with a record-setting sophomore season, the loss of DaVaris Daniels and departure of TJ Jones didn’t do anything to slow the Irish passing game down.
Feb 24, 2015, 1:34 PM EST
None of Notre Dame’s coaching changes are official yet. But more arrows point to North Carolina defensive line coach Keith Gilmore joining the Irish staff in the same role.
Feb 23, 2015, 12:43 AM EST
There might not be a deeper unit on the roster than the offensive line. After a lack of depth made it nearly impossible to practice at full speed heading into the 2012 BCS title game, Notre Dame enters the 2015 season with a two-deep most teams would pay for.
Feb 20, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Whether it’s the Siberian Express rolling through most of the country (sorry, guys) or the grand reshuffling taking place on Brian Kelly’s coaching staff, Notre Dame announced a delay in the kickoff of spring practice.
Feb 19, 2015, 11:44 AM EST
After an incredibly impressive run at the position, Notre Dame enters spring practice with nothing but question marks at tight end. After Brian Kelly watched Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Troy Niklas and now Ben Koyack churn through his program, he’ll spend spring trying to figure out what exactly he has at the position.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
On Tuesday, a flurry of reports had Brian Kelly focusing in on the final pieces of his reshuffled coaching staff. They include two likely additions, one transition, and a position shift.
Feb 18, 2015, 11:18 AM EST
A few days after safety Avery Sebastian announced his intentions, Notre Dame made the commitment and graduate transfer of the former Cal safety official. Sebastian will enroll in graduate school and join the team in June.
Feb 17, 2015, 4:12 PM EST
After missing out on a running back in the 2014 recruiting cycle, a once crowded depth chart now only features Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant. Two backs that once worried about having to find snaps will now have all the work they could ever want, with the majority of spring spent doing everything they can to stay healthy.
Feb 16, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
One of the most impressive statistical seasons in school history was flushed down the toilet when Everett Golson could not stop turning the football over. With fumbles, poor decision-making and some plain bad luck plaguing Golson’s otherwise exceptional season, Brian Kelly chose Malik Zaire to be his starter for the Music City Bowl.
Feb 16, 2015, 8:45 AM EST
Finishing up a holiday weekend with part three of the mailbag.
Feb 14, 2015, 7:18 PM EST
Let’s continue with the mailbag, starting with my guess as to how the quarterback battle this spring ends up.
Feb 14, 2015, 1:42 PM EST
Notre Dame has its next two-sport athlete. Sophomore wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. has joined the baseball team, UND.com announced.
Feb 13, 2015, 11:55 AM EST
We’re going to break up this mailbag into a few different sections as well. With a lot of changes swirling through Brian Kelly’s football program, there’s plenty to cover on a usually slow February weekend.
Feb 12, 2015, 10:18 PM EST
Brian Kelly hinted that Notre Dame wasn’t finished adding players to the roster on Signing Day. And on Thursday night, Kelly and the Irish coaching staff shored up one of their major deficiencies by adding Cal graduate transfer Avery Sebastian.
Feb 11, 2015, 1:38 PM EST
Just days after losing Tony Alford, it looks like Brian Kelly is making a large move on his offensive coaching staff. Multiple reports have Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford joining Notre Dame’s offensive staff.
Feb 11, 2015, 12:14 PM EST
Wasn’t this supposed to be a slow week? We’ve got coaching searches, potential transfers and so much more going on. Spring practice begins in three weeks. Let’s get a mailbag going. Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Feb 10, 2015, 1:08 PM EST
Tony Alford is off to Ohio State, with nothing but class displayed. The long-time Irish running back coach and recruiting coordinator joins Urban Meyer as his running backs coach while padding his resume with an assistant head coach title as well.
Feb 9, 2015, 1:52 PM EST
Brian Kelly very nearly had to replace another key assistant. That’s because Inside the Irish has learned that offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock turned down the heading coaching job at Central Michigan to stay at Notre Dame.